Is it too soon to include so recent a movie? Not when it’s this extraordinary. A wrenchingly beautiful Irish immigrant drama, it re-creates the titular 1950s-era borough in all its melting-pot diversity (and Dodgers-loving Italian boyfriends), while also giving the 21-year-old Saoirse Ronan the kind of role—romantically conflicted, blooming, courageously open—that transforms young stars into icons.
It took a while for Irish movies to break out internationally – in fact, peruse this list of the best Irish films and you’ll notice most of them are from the ’90s and early 2000s. It’s still rare for a movie from the Emerald Isle to reach a global audience. But those that do tend to stick with you. Think about the humble romantic musical Once, or Daniel Day-Lewis’s star-making turn in Jim Sheridan’s My Left Foot, or Martin McDonagh’s Oscar-nominated existential character study The Banshees of Inisherin. Regardless of the genre, the best Irish movies exude a particular, idiosyncratic soul reflective of the country’s history, culture and, especially, its people. You don’t have to save these classics for St Patrick’s Day – but if you’re happening to be on the market for a suggestion to mark the holiday, look no further than these 13 cracking selections.